Many were predicting that 19-year-old rising star Carlos Alcaraz would leave Paris as champion. Maybe one day. Not yet. Instead, it’s Alexander Zverev who still has a shot for his first Grand Slam title.
Zaverev ended Alcaraz’s 14-match winning streak with a 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7) victory, reaching the semifinals in Roland-Garros for the second year. Rows
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“I told him on the net, ‘You’re going to win this tournament many times, not just once,'” said third-seeded Zaverev, runner-up at the US Open in 2020 and a gold medalist. The Tokyo Olympics last summer. “I hope I can win it before he starts … hitting us all.”
Xavier will now play the winner of the much-anticipated, more exciting quarter-final between defending champion Novak Djokovic and 13-time champion Rafael Nadal. It was such a big deal that it was made available free of charge throughout France via a streaming service that Clay-Court Major has exclusive access to this year’s night sessions.
The 59th installment of Djokovic vs. Nadal was their first meeting since last year’s Roland-Garos, when Djokovic won the semifinals four-setter.
At least 20 Grand Slam titles (Nadal 21; Djokovic 20), the first of two to win at least 1000 matches (Nadal 1,055; Djokovic 1,005), the first of two men to win at least 300 matches in a major tournament (Djokovic has 327; Nadal 302).
And on May 22 Djokovic, 35, and Nadal, 36, on Friday, who knows how many more such events will take place?
In women’s action, 18-year-old Coco Goff of the United States and 28-year-old Martina Travisan of Italy reached their first Grand Slam semifinals.
18th seed Goff defeated 2017 US Open champion and 2018 Roland-Garros runner-up Sloane Stephens 7-5, 6-2, while 59th ranked Travisan defeated US Open finalist Leila Fernandez 6-2, 6-7 (3), 6- 3.
Alcaraz advanced to the quarter-finals this season with a 20-1 tour-leading title at Clay with four titles and a 32-3 record. These include the victory over 25-year-old Zaverev in the final of the Madrid Open on May 8 – the first time a teenager has beaten the two giants in the same tournament since Alcaraz’s victory over Nadal and Djokovic. On the surface.
At Roland Garros, sixth-seeded Alcaraz was trying to become the youngest semi-finalist since Nadal in 2005 at the age of 19.
Zverev, however, managed to fix a significant flaw in his resume: the Germans started the afternoon with a 0-11 record in a Grand Slam match against an opponent in the top 10 of the ATP rankings.
“At the end of the day,” Zaverev said, “I knew today that I had to play my best tennis from the beginning.”
He got exactly the start he wanted, using every bit of his 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) frame to get himself in position for his free-swing, ball-stinging groundstrokes, and set himself two sets ahead.
Alcaraz, on the other hand, was not at his peak, accumulating 32 unforced errors in the first two sets alone, 17 more than Zaverev in that span. Alkaraj 58, Zaverev 34.
Viewers of Court Philippe Chatterjee seemed to be their favorite from the outset, singing Alkaraj his first name and responding with the approval of his fist pump “Vamos!” – Especially since he clears his strokes and makes some more matches using his usual array drop shots to great effect.
After dropping the third set, Zverev served 5-4 in the fourth set for the match but Alkarz broke down when he tore the backhand winner which screamed at him and pumped his fist – and excited the crowd.
Alcaraj then held the set point at 6-5 in the tiebreaker.
“The match,” Zaverev said, “was making its way.”
A backhand without Alcaraz was netted and soon Zverev’s first match point was 7-6, which he abandoned with his own net backhand.
A soft drop volley gave it a second chance to close and this time Zverev did it with the backhand return winner.
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